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February 02, 2004

Junior Miss

I have always, from the first moment I read him, admired Gerald Early. His series "Speech & Power" is one of my favorites. It sits between his other book 'Lure and Loathing' and Stephenson's 'Quicksilver' on my second shelf. I've always been one of those people who hopes you come and look at my bookshelves when you come over my house and Early is part of the the 'good china' of my intellectual pursuits.

Early is one of those gents that I would be like, had I not been infatuated with business and computing. A scholar who devours literature and a conservator of American history. There are few men on this planet who can so aptly describe the sweet science of boxing as does Gerald Early. I always defer to the righteous academics who do their homework. bell hooks was the first who gave me the inkling about the volume of work required to be a competent critic of African American life. So it comes as no surprise that Early, one of those who puts in work, has so little regard for Debra Dickerson's latest opus.

But he goes one step further:

With the publication of ''The End of Blackness,'' a book not only about white racism but about black people's response to it, Debra J. Dickerson joins a growing and varied class of black public intellectuals that includes people like John McWhorter, Bell Hooks, Michael Eric Dyson, Patricia Williams, Henry Louis Gates, Shelby Steele, Thulani Davis, Stanley Crouch, Greg Tate, Ellis Cose and Brent Staples.

In this, he sets up the pins and then takes scholarly aim with his bowling ball. In the end, this work, and those like it are struck down with precision.

The problem is that the author does not know enough, has not researched enough, to write an incisive book on African-American life or American racism. If one listens to a lot of black talk radio or has some bull sessions with other blacks, nearly every gripe and observation in ''The End of Blackness'' will be familiar. One does not write a book like this. One gets over it. That is why good writers keep journals.

I kept the whole PDF of this review because I think it's important to defeat the Fungibles and that Dickerson is trying to ride a fast track to become one. Not that there is anything untoward in this ambition, but that there is something very important about it which necessitates a deeper level of comittment. Why should the world listen to Dickerson when Early is around? Download file

She had a hard row to hoe coming into this genre, and I find it gratifying that Early is on my side in this. If you're going to give advice, do some deep thinking first.

Come to think of it, that may be one, two, three strikes for Dickerson. Better luck next year.

Posted by mbowen at February 2, 2004 05:21 PM

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Tracked on February 3, 2004 08:52 PM